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State v. Leach

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

April 19, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
TAZARIUS JAY VOND LEACH

          Assigned on Briefs May 10, 2016

          Direct Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2014-C-2329 Mark J. Fishburn, Judge

         A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Tazarius Jay Vond Leach, of two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of carjacking. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of fifteen years. On appeal, the Appellant argues that the State's providing "a hypothetical using the facts of the case" to explain criminal responsibility during voir dire violated his right to a fair trial and impartial jury. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

          Luke Hammond and Nick McGregor, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Tazarius Jay Vond Leach.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Brian Ewald and Leandra Varney, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

          OPINION

          NORMA MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE

         I. Factual Background

         The Davidson County Grand Jury indicted the Appellant and Devante Travis Brooks a.k.a. Devonte Brooks for the aggravated robbery of Keith Beard, the aggravated robbery of Bridgette Lofton, [1] and carjacking. The offenses occurred at the Hickory Trace Apartments complex, which was located behind Hickory Hollow Mall in Antioch.

         In the light most favorable to the State, the proof adduced at trial revealed that on February 20, 2014, Beard and Lofton went to the apartment complex to see the new apartment of Beard's co-worker, "Shawn." They arrived at the complex between 7:15 and 7:45 p.m. and parked near the entrance because they did not know the exact location of Shawn's apartment. Beard got out of the car and exchanged text messages with Shawn. He advised Shawn of their arrival, and Shawn asked which car Beard had driven. Beard responded that he had driven his Monte Carlo, and Shawn replied that he was on his way to meet them. Beard and Lofton waited for ten or fifteen minutes, but Shawn never arrived and did not answer Beard's telephone calls.

         While Beard and Lofton were waiting, the Appellant, in a white Impala, drove into the parking space on the driver's side of the Monte Carlo and parked. Approximately five minutes after the Impala arrived, Beard walked to the driver's door of the Monte Carlo to get back into the car. At that time, Brooks got out of the front passenger side of the Impala, pointed a black handgun at Beard, and said, "'Give me everything you got in your pockets. Whatever you got, give it to me.'" Beard put his hands up, begged Brooks not to shoot him, and stated that he did not have anything. Beard noticed that the Appellant, who was in the driver's seat of the Impala, appeared to be watching. Brooks took Beard's cellular telephone and wallet containing ninety dollars in cash.

         After Brooks took the items, the Appellant got out of the Impala. Brooks asked who was in the Monte Carlo, and Beard responded that the passenger was his fiancé. Brooks pointed the gun at Beard and made him walk to the passenger side of the Monte Carlo and open Lofton's door. The Appellant searched the inside of the car, "frisked" Lofton, and took her cellular telephone and wallet. Meanwhile, Brooks told Beard to stop looking at him because he did not want Beard to be able to identify him. After the car was searched, the men told Lofton to get out of the car, and she complied. Brooks got into the driver's seat of the Monte Carlo and drove away. The Appellant followed in the Impala. Brooks shot at the victims as he drove from the scene.

         After the robbery, Beard and Lofton ran to the movie theater at the mall and called the police. Metro Nashville Police (Metro) Officer William Durham arrived within ten or fifteen minutes and took the victims back to the ...


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